Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

Productivity, Time Management, Performance

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 Every good sports coach knows the importance of judgment when calling a “time out”. Applied at just the right moment, they create strategic flashes that can turn the tide of any game, and effectively interrupt the flow of the opposing team and disrupt their momentum. “Time outs” also re-focus resources and galvanize the energy to move forward in a more intelligent manner.

Calling “time out” in your business creates the same effect.

Confessions of a Strategic Business Coach

Recently, when working on a series of projects, I could tell I needed a break. There were “early warning signs” signaling prime poor performance and burnout was ahead.

I was holding my break. Rushing through the project in order to check it off my list. Carrying on three different conversations in my own head about what I’d rather be doing. I wanted to escape from the project. Any of these sound familiar? (P.S. No client project was harmed in the doing of this project.)

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to do the project. I loved the project…when I started it. Unfortunately, I had worked on the project for an extended period of time. I had drained the resources I needed to continue to perform at a level to which I had become accustomed.  I needed a “time out”.

Learning to Avoid Burnout

Growing up in “farming country”, you learn to push yourself through the difficulties and angst of work. Alas, I learned the error of that strategy the hard way.

Following many years of a grueling self-imposed work schedule, I experienced a health crisis. (Is anyone really surprised?) During my recovery (and relearning) phase, I worked with a body worker who shared this sage advice: Life is like a river that has a flow. You have to let it take you where it wants you to go.

Yikes! That’s tough medicine to swallow for someone with a strong work ethic and analytical thinking. I learned through experimenting with the concept how right she was.

Whenever I felt the need to push myself back from my desk, I acted on it – not as a mindset of avoidance but rather an indication that I had blown through my resources and it was time to refuel. Or, whenever my desk didn’t call my name, I knew another need required attention before my performance was ready to kick in.

Scientific Data Supports Result – Rest Cycle

If it’s difficult to trust your gut, there’s now new research demonstrates that calling a “time out” is the ideal strategy for accelerated performance.

Pierre Khawand, author of The Results Curve(TM): How to Manage Focused and Collaborative Time, discovered after a decade of research that the best results are achieved after 40 minutes of focused work following by 20 minutes of collaboration.

Tony Schwartz, President of The Energy Project, discovered the accelerated performance benefits of what he calls The 90-Minute Solution. Through his work, Tony uncovered scientific research revealing the human body’s natural 90/20 cycle. Apparently, carrying the 90/20-minute sleep cycle into our day dramatically influences performance.

Do you need to call a “time out”? After completing this blog, I do! Come join me. Let’s call a “time out”.

Small business owners are famous for juggling. Even though we juggle everything from bookkeeping to bill collections to business development, there’s much we can learn from professional jugglers to help us turn the madness of juggling into a masterpiece.

 Juggling is a skill. Once it’s learned, it’s very much like riding a bike. You never forget. And, if juggling is going to be part of your everyday business, why not learn to master the craft. Here are 7 tricks professional jugglers want you to know:

  1. Practice and persistence is key. You’ve heard “practice makes perfect”? Well, it’s actually persistent practice makes perfect. Don’t just randomly juggle all there is to do in your business, learn to juggle with intention.
  2. Relax and visualize what you want to happen. Juggling can be stressful — especially when injected with worry and fear. Take a few, deep breaths. Picture yourself smoothly and effortlessly moving from one task to another. Concentrate on what you want to happen.
  3. Accept that “dropping” is inevitable. Perfectionism is incompatible with juggling. An occasional “drop” is a normal part of the process. Forgive yourself when it happens.
  4. Learn to throw and catch one ball correctly first. Who doesn’t want to be a master juggler? It’s only natural. But, even the most gifted jugglers hone their craft one step at a time. Start simply.
  5. Work on consistent, steady throws. When you focus on the throw, the catch naturally follows. Skillful execution leads to successful outcomes. Focus on the implementation and the result will follow.
  6. Pause between each throw. The brain is incapable of sustained performance without time to rejuvenate. For maximum performance, plan a 10-minute recess every 90 minutes to refresh and renew your efforts.
  7. Hold each ball loosely in your hand. Don’t choke innovation by holding too tightly to a proposed agenda. Cradle proposed plans loosely to allow for opportunities to develop.

There you have it. Everything you need to know to juggle like the pros. After all, if you’re going to juggle in your business anyway, why not refine your talent and impress your friends.

What’s next? How about eating an apple while you juggle….

Related Blog Posts:

When did it happen? How did it happen? It was all so subtle. It started with a small portion of your day visiting your inbox. Your inbox was new and exciting and, with anything fresh, electrifying, and shimmering, it held mind-blowing magnetism!

Next, you brought your morning cup of Joe. Your warm, fuzzy pajamas and bunny slippers made you feel right at home. How much fun was it was to browse through emails sipping on a hot cup of java at the start of your day.

You sensed a bit of a problem when you began taking meals to your inbox. The snacks were not a problem but the three course meals left quite the mess – not to mention the crumbs stuck in your keyboard that make your “s” key stutter.

Fast forward. It’s 3 pm and you still haven’t showered. About the time you get all your emails picked up and put away, the send/receive button creates another flurry. You have piles everywhere. Your actionable items hang haphazardly from your task bar. Appointments are strewn across your calendar. Your priorities? They’re in here somewhere!

You have officially moved into your inbox and it is controlling every movement and action of your day. It’s consuming your time and energy and preventing you from getting to the REAL work of achieving your goals.

The following list summarizes the steps needed to move out of your inbox.*

1. Schedule times to visit your inbox. Your mom and dad don’t like you stopping by their house unannounced and spending the day. They have things to do – and so do you! Don’t randomly stop by your inbox with the intent of spending the day there either. Schedule 2-3 times a day to visit your inbox and respond to emails as needed.

2. Organize email newsletters. E-newsletters are distracting. They create delays in moving quickly through your inbox. Unsubscribe from email newsletters that no longer contribute to your goals. However, if there is a “must keep” subscription, set up a “Reading” folder and a rule for newsletters. A rule sends the newsletter directly to the “Reading” folder where you can read to your heart’s content at a time designated for reading.

3. Close your inbox after responding to emails. This helps control your send/receive addiction when you’re bored or afraid you’re missing out on something.

4. Use a timer. Your inbox was not designed for permanent residency. At the pre-determined time, log into your inbox, set your timer, and when the bell rings, pack your bags and go! “No dilly dallying”, as my mother would say.

5. Do not visit your inbox – even temporarily – outside of the predetermined times. Without a doubt, your inbox is quite comfortable. So cozy in fact, you’ve been seen “stopping by” your inbox during meetings, while waiting in line, or throughout dinner with family and friends. Don’t do that anymore. It’s actually quite rude and disrespectful to those you’re with.

6. Eliminate all notifications. The call of the “ping” is alluring. It traps you in your inbox. Once you purge notifications, you can enjoy the promise of communication and connection at a time and location more convenient for you.

* Failure to comply with this checklist will cause you to feel overwhelmed, stressed, burned out, and exhausted.

It’s time to move out of your inbox and move in to achieving your goals, don’t you agree?

Read on:

The New Killer Email App for Entrepreneurs: You

Death by a Thousand Emails

5 Ways to Get More Done in Your Business

Your day is in full swing. You’ve downed several cups of coffee in hopes to set fire to your brain. You’ve moved papers from one side of your desk to the other and onto the floor in neat stacks (for the fourth time). If you work from a home office, you’re in your PJ’s with your hair sporting the latest “bed-head” style. Is this how you ignite performance in your small business?

As much as you love to believe that being a “go with the flow” person is the key to small business performance, you discover that your “flow” has changed course. It’s no longer moving in the direction of the goals you’ve set for your business.

Let’s face it — a little structure in a small business, in addition to being a character-developing experience, ensures your small business performs as you intend. Here are a few simple strategies to jump-start your small business performance and keep you headed in the right direction.

  1. Start each day on the right track. Jot down your goal – not your to do’s. If your goal doesn’t quickly and easily come to mind, try a little Solution on the Fly.
  2. Note THE most important activity that contributes directly to your goals. Not 3 or 5 – just one. Let’s not complicate things.
  3. Resist the lure of projects or activities not on your priority list. It delays goal achievement.
  4. Don’t let the priorities of others become yours. Not an easy task but with practice comes perfection.
  5. Dump behaviors and plans not producing results, even if conventional wisdom says otherwise. Continuing unproductive activities is the definition of insanity – and it’s pointless.

Take charge of your small business performance. Don’t get sidetracked. Small business performance = goal achievement. You have more control over your performance – and that of your small business – than you think.

Other Ways to Improve Performance:

The New Killer Email App for Entrepreneurs: YOU

13 Tips for Making Time Work for You

5 Ways to Get More Done

Small Business Advice on Time Saving Technology

Declutter Your Task List

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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